Joe Collins- Principal, Avalon Accounting
Avalon Accounting offers Bookkeeping and Controllership services to small to medium sized businesses spanning multiple industries- from tech to health and wellness to craft beer. Launched in 2015 and based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, nearly all of Avalon’s business is conducted online; saving time, money, and the environment.
Joe Collins, Principal at Avalon Accounting, is a very busy guy. He launched his own company in the same year as adding a new baby to his brood, naturally placing spare time at a premium.
Following Avalon’s launch, the company’s growth was understandably at the forefront of Joe’s mind: Meeting new clients, determining their needs, creating proposals, and invoicing for work. But Joe quickly began noticing inefficiencies in his proposal creation and client on-boarding processes, and became increasingly frustrated with the limitations of the programs that he was using.
“I thought: This is crazy. I was writing up a whole engagement letter, changing the fields in Word, and then PDF’ing it. And what should be taking a couple of minutes was taking two and a half hours”.
When Joe was first approached by Practice Ignition, he had three main goals:
Switching between various Word documents and printing to PDF for each individual proposal was taking up way too much of Joe’s valuable time.
"I thought: This is crazy. I was writing up a whole engagement letter, changing the fields in Word, and then PDF’ing it. And what should be taking a couple of minutes was taking two and a half hours"
In working with his first few clients, Joe realized that his service terminology was far too broad. He was lumping completely separate activities together under a singular umbrella. Which brings us to Joe’s third- and possibly most important- goal:
Few things are worse for a new business owner than to watch billable hours rise without having a way to recoup the costs when it comes time to invoice. Without having delineated the specific tasks involved in a project from the outset, Joe was losing money with each change order.
Joe immediately saw the profound impact that Practice Ignition could have on his ability to recoup lost costs and eliminate scope creep. Utilizing 5 free hours on a Saturday night, Joe set out to customize Practice Ignition’s back end to suit Avalon Accounting’s needs. Here’s what he found:
Self-described as “particular”, Joe knew that he wanted to take his time in constructing a few different engagement letters up front, in order to save himself time in the long run. Once the infrastructure was set up, Joe’s second proposal on Practice Ignition took less than 10 minutes to put together.
The process of creating Avalon’s “services” drop down menu forced Joe to delineate and define each and every one of the services he offered. Breaking all the tasks out into a tangible list not only helped him set realistic expectations with his clients, but also provided Joe with a priceless understanding of the breadth of Avalon’s true offering.
After establishing Avalon’s infrastructure on Practice Ignition, Joe was able to easily and seamlessly approach clients in a manner that spoke to his company’s professionalism and attention to detail.
“(Practice Ignition) is one of the first touch-points we have with clients. It sets the tone for the entire relationship. When I switched over, I got feedback (from new clients) saying, ‘Yes, you’re the type of Accountant that we want to work with’. They would expect nothing less now.”
"Yes, you’re the type of Accountant that we want to work with"
Joe uses Practice Ignition as a valuable time and money saving tool; a method for getting clients on the same page as the Avalon team by setting realistic, detailed expectations about projects from Day One. Joe cites Practice Ignition as being a key component in Avalon Accounting consistently operating based on the “best practices” he established early on.
“A lot of people make the ‘best practices’ but never do them. But I think that’s the real power of Practice Ignition. You actually do those ‘best practice’ things because they’re not a big chore.”
Avalon Accounting continues to grow as the company heads into its second full year in business. Having established a communication infrastructure for developing clear, concise, and accurate project proposals, the company’s risk of “scope creep” has diminished, and Joe is able to bill for exactly the services that he has provided. Avalon’s clients rest assured, having accurate records of all of their interactions with the company.
Best of all, now that Joe isn’t “wasting time in Word” anymore, he has more time to devote to the tasks that truly matter.